Monthly Archive: June 2014

Is Coca-Cola More Agile Than You?

Now I don’t know but I been told
it’s hard to run with the weight of gold -Robert Hunter

Ashley Brown, formerly the global director for digital communications and social media at The Coca-Cola Company, wrote a goodbye email to his colleagues, wherein he detailed what he learned while working on the world’s largest soft drink brand.

delicious refreshing

One of the things he learned was to “Be Brave and Do Things.” I might change that to be brave and do things that matter; nevertheless, let’s dive a bit deeper into Brown’s takeaways.

“We learned that, more than anything else, we have to have a laser focus on getting stuff done. Endless planning is a tyranny, and gets in the way of doing actual work. We learned to plan the bare minimum to get something off the ground, and then just wing it, adjust on the fly, and be agile.”

Plan the bare minimum, wing it, adjust on the fly and be agile. Sounds like a five-person startup in a SE Portland garage, but it’s not. One of the largest and most successful consumer brands in the world has adopted agile marketing techniques.

Ask yourself if your company is busy inventing new ways to work.

Another giant, Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and ceo of ad agency holding company, WPP, notes that “Don Draper and Roger Sterling simply wouldn’t recognise three quarters of what we do today.” Given that digital and interactive marketing, programmatic buying and big data now account for about $14 billion of WPP’s $18 billion in annual revenues, Sir Martin’s declaration is no hyperbole.

Adapt and you will persevere.

Agencies used to bring a deliberate, studied approach to building out a client’s ad campaigns. Today, the pace is faster and the focus is more executional. We still need big ideas to serve as a foundation for the brand—that will always be the case. The challenge is to meet our client’s executional needs, which are now more complex than ever.

Here is one example. I have a client with dozens of discreet locations throughout four western states, all of which have been automatically indexed by Google, added to Google+ Local and Google Maps. The problem is this client wants to retain privacy and doesn’t want to be active in social media. You’d think it would be easy to work with Google to de-activate these auto-populated pages, but it is not easy. One reason it is not easy: the ever-shifting sands that updates to Google and other social platforms represent.

To run today’s always-on MarCom ultra-marathons, you need to be in top condition and work from a lean configuration. At the same time, the skills needed to run these races are many, so ideally each team member is a creative unicorn. Take the instance above, who on the team is best suited to stay on top of the ever shifting digital sands? One change in the way Facebook manages its News Feed, and months of planning (and money) could be down the drain.